No access to the internet, smartphones in tribal schools
File photo

While schools in Mumbai will be shut till December 31, schools in tribal, remote, rural areas and outskirts of Mumbai are facing lack of accessibility, electricity power supply, internet connection and availability of smartphones to access online education after eight months of lockdown. Teachers and members working in these schools in various pockets of Mumbai said students cannot afford WiFi so they depend on mobile data connection but some have a single smartphone in the house but cannot charge it every day due to power supply failure.

Students of schools in remote areas do not have access to smartphones, computers, internet and WiFi connection. Shyam Sonar, national executive member, All India Forum Right to Education, said, "Students of schools in remote areas cannot afford to buy new smartphones. There is no internet bandwidth in certain areas which are far from away the metropolitan citiy areas."

Members working in schools in remote areas such as Sanjay Nagar at Mankhurd, Lumbini Baug at Govandi, Adivasi Pada at Palghar, Savarkar Nagar, Wagle Estate and Lokmanya Nagar at Thane area state students do not have access to online education. Sonar said, "Some students have just one smartphone in their homes which belongs to their parents."

Sonar added, "Even if they want to use the smartphone they cannot charge it because there are electric supply power cuts. They are deprived of online education which is in violation to the Right to Education (RTE), Act which states free and compulsory education for children of 6 to 14 years. The state government is trying their best to make virtual classes accessible to all students but they have to try and make it available at the ground level."

Another teacher of a tribal school at Palghar said, "We are relying on schools to reopen offline classes so that students can access basic regular lessons. The situation is different in schools in metropolitan areas and remote areas. Students need to access offline classes as it is their only means of gaining basic elementary education."

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Free Press Journal